Mindanaoans reject privatization of Agus-Pulangui hydro power plants PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 15 April 2012 15:01

The people of Mindanao have spoken, they unanimously rejected the planned privatization of the Agus-Pulangui hydro power plant.

Mindanao lawmakers, local government units, business sector, including electric cooperatives in the region, have one position —not to privatize the hydro power plant as it supplied 52 percent of the region’s electricity, which they aired to President Benigno S. Aquino III during the 1st Mindanao Power Summit held at the Waterfront Insular Hotel here.

In their position paper presented by House Deputy Speaker and Zamboanga City Rep. Ma. Isabelle Climaco, the Mindanao congressmen said the President should declare that the Agus-Pulangui hydro power plant should not be privatized for the benefit of the people, and for the entire country in general.

“Today, government policy on Agus-Pulangui is in limbo. There is a resolution in the Lower House deferring privatization of these assets, but there is no definite policy from the Aquino administration. We urge that the President declare that the Agus-Pulangui should not be privatized,” she said.

“Privatization would only be giving market power to a private entity. If left with the government without the profit motive, hydro power can blend power rates and mitigate spikes in power prices,” Climaco said.

Instead of privatization, Climaco said she was sponsoring a bill that would formulate a viable way to operate and maintain the Agus-Pulangui hydro complexes “without sacrificing the interest of the people of Mindanao.”

“My proposal is to set up a Mindanao Power Company, a government-owned-and-controlled corporation that would own, operate and control the Agus-Pulangui hydro power complexes. The government body shall be the multi-sectoral, and its power and functions can be detailed after inputs from the relevant stakeholders. The idea is to have Mindanaoans be responsible for powering Mindanao,” she said.

The position was supported by Mindanao Business Council chairman Vicente Lao, who also heads the Mindanao Electric Power Alliance.
He said the two plants have lowered the power rates in Mindanao compared with the rest of the country.

In reply, President Aquino has deferred for two years the privatization of the Agus-Pulangui hydro power plant.

In his keynote address, President Aquino also said Mindanao residents have only two options — to pay higher power rates or live with the rotating brownouts.

He said Mindanaoans must put in their fair share in solving the power shortage problem by paying a little more.

“You have to pay more because this is the reality of economics, not the rhetoric of politics. Everything has its price,” he said.

“You have to pay a real price for a real service. There are only two choices: pay a little more for energy, or live with the rotating brownouts,” he said.
The President noted that paying a little more for energy will enable Mindanao ensure a stable supply of power for the future of the region.

“It will make the lives of everyone in Mindanao better — not just by allowing them to switch on light bulbs — but also because having a more consistent energy source will give Mindanao a more convincing business proposition to potential investors — not just in the energy sector,” he said.

“This isn’t just about energy, this is about attracting investments and creating jobs, and this is about securing the future of this region,” he said.